“I opened my palm, face up, and gathered the floating fingers of energy there, condensing them to a tennis ball where the energy glowed brighter, then to a ping-pong ball, where it burned brighter still. By the time I'd shrunk the concentrated magick down to the size of a pea, floating just above the lined skin of my palm, the silver was glowing as bright as any star and I could feel heat radiating from it. I squashed it more — manipulating it like a shrinking form of plasticine — until it was not much bigger than a poppy seed so dazzling the light was blinding my remaining green eye. It was perfect, just so, the tiny fleck of potent silver. Perfect because I'd learned during my time alone at Tregrehan and here again in the garden of Eden that big things always grow from little ones. Looking up at my friends for the last time, along with the rest of my family who had gathered, I managed a wobbling bow with the bloody tunnel of a smile on my face. Ta-dah! I said, without uttering a word, because I didn't just believe my final act would have the desired effect, I knew it. And that's how true magick works. With my last mental blink, the starbright, silver seed exploded as if it were a silent atom bomb.
They were all knocked from their feet, the gathered witches, and the psithurism — the whispering of the trees — became a roar as they bent backwards. The shockwave grew into the basin of the quarry then spilt over its rim, mushrooming and expanding outwards and outwards, upwards and upwards. Silver light pushed out to the borders of our island, then our world, then beyond until it reached the stars, where it pushed against that evil tear in the moon. There was a Thwump! where the Land Rover once had none. There was a final Thwump! as the door slammed and The Void was shut out, the rip sealed forever and the corpse of The Other left in the nothing for eternity. It was the last thing I heard — a distorted vibration passing through the blood which filled my ears — as I collapsed flat on my back, gasping and shaking while my organs imploded. And that's how I died.
Love can do some pretty extreme stuff to a person.”
Back in 2016, as I starved in a bedsit, bankrupt, lonely, heartbroken, and scared shitless of how it would all end – because I'm not big on having my choices taken away from me so tend towards making the difficult ones when needs must – there was an unbroken piece of me which still believed in bigger things to come. Believed that good in the world can still be done, even when the odds look frankly shit. And it was there, in the evenings of rationed Gingernuts, I wrote Forever Completely, the book this passage comes from.
FC - as I call it - took me first to love and then to home, and then to family and I'm blessed with a herd of five amazing children and my soulmate by my side. It also took me on a journey from having nothing and being nothing, a fresh start on a blank canvas, to venturing into the world of crowdfunded journalism during one of the most tumultuous periods in living history. And I've worked my arse off, in public and behind the scenes, to try and throw enough good into the world for the second time in my life to make a lasting difference and try to protect what's decent.
But there's a cost to that, much as there was when I marched into Parliament and told them the police, in which I served, had fiddled the crime figures for thirty years and sealed its own fate by justifying unsustainable austerity. The cost this time has been an even harsher pasting, not least because I have an intimate understanding of how low the system will let you fall without catching you if it all goes wrong. And the worst thing, beyond the hostile foreign states and internet trolls? Some people are fucking horrible and don't really deserve the effort of people like me - who have a nasty tendency of helping indiscriminately.
Nonetheless, I've done my best. Every day I've done my best to do the right thing and also to try and fight away from having to crowdfund what I do – partly because I feel like a beggar and not a real person and am often treated that way. But it just hasn't worked.
Two years down the line and we are still having conversations we don't need to have as if it's the first time we are hearing the information. It's just dull. And there are some people who make it impossible to justify the effort. Sneering. Belittling. Exercising various levels of privilege because they don't know better or can't see beyond the fact they will personally be okay no matter what. We’ve literally wasted this time waiting for old structures to save us. Academics fighting for funding tut because for once they do not own the discussion or debate. The media flops and fawns as it struggles for revenue in this new world. Meanwhile society is degraded. Politics broken.
Twitter still serves as a quick guide to public opinion, a mass poll which policy makers look in on and is the forge where news is cast now. Facebook is still the rumour mill - the place where the fake and salacious and genuine thrive side-by-side and become real world impacts. Sadly, it's all worse now than ever. The security services, both hostile and defensive, makes moves on the same spaces too, because it’s all they have, leaving us with a blanket of static perpetuating the situation. Making it permanent and profitable. All the while people at all levels deny, lie, or ignore and the rest of us suffer in unison.
One day this will catch up with everyone. One day it will be a matter of accepted fact. Until then, it’s still down to good people with no safety nets. Frustrated, attacked, often unsupported but for each other, the sad news is: the watchmen are battered, bruised, and exhausted.
My one personal win was being paid for a feature piece in the New Internationalist but there hasn't been a moment of transformation. It's been close a few times but I've come to realise the door just isn't open to growing as a journalist, despite my best efforts, and other doors are closed because of that thing I did at Scotland Yard and its consequences. The law enforcement agencies have done their best, but they are hampered for reasons I understand. The regulators have proven to be exactly what I said they were: under-equipped. And Parliament simply hasn't listened. My final go was the Scotland report, and it was a nice way to end really. Because you should always go out on a high.
As what little good I've been able to achieve continues to spread outwards from it's impossibly tiny beginnings – good which includes Getting Ready Together, The Fall, Alternative War, and the rest – I need to concede. Yield to the kicking all this has given me and move a step closer to home.
This is what Hedge Fund Studio is all about. A tiny seed which has the potential to grow into something truly powerful.
Recently I've been called fatalistic and once even “worse than the Kremlin.” There's nothing I owe in response to this really but there’s an old saying: may you get what you deserve. It’s all that’s left in a world that’s had better and largely failed to respond. In a lifetime I'm not sure there's a lot more I can do for other people without doing something for myself.
It's been a mixed bag, the experience which has led here. Some moments of real joy in the people I've met, as well as moments of real darkness. So, to the former I wanted to take the chance to say thank you. And to the latter: fuck off and stay fucked off.
Sometimes the end is just change. Growth. Finding a sliver of hope in a charred pile of ashes and running with it like there's no tomorrow.
“For a time, there was nothing but my circle expanding outwards. Or, more apt, just the sense of it. A pulse travelling way beyond the confines of where it should have stayed and into the far reaches of where it had no business being, having looked as weak as it did at first.
The tiny seed had grown into something big, huge even, and that's how the transition between this life and the next happened for me. A sense of expansion. There was no fade to black. No white light at the end of a tunnel.